Latin America

On the eve of the October 7, Venezuelan presidential election, Green Left TV's Peter Boyle spoke to Tamara Pearson (below), an Australian socialist who has been living in Venezuela since 2007. She writes for Venezuela Analysis and for Green Left Weekly.

Pearson lives in Merida but was in Caracas for the final stage of the election campaign and to help lead the 2012 Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network brigade whose members are also there to witness this election campaign.

“Major U.S. business groups are stepping up pressure on President Barack Obama's administration to suspend longtime trade benefits for Ecuador, citing the Andean country's mistreatment of Chevron Corp as proof of a deteriorating investment climate”, Reuters said September 26.

“Washington has refused to extradite a former Bolivian president to the South American country to stand trial over political violence that forced him from office nine years ago”, Reutuers reports that Bolivian President Evo Morales said on September 7.

Bolivia wants former US-backed president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, known as “Goni”, to face charges over corruption allegations and for his role in the deaths of 63 people killed by security forces during the 2003 uprising that overthrew him.

On our third full day of activity on the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) 2012 Presidential Elections Brigade we visited Sala de la Batalla Sociales, LA Communa. This is a grouping of 35 Community Councils in the barrio of Petare. We visited the community medical centre (where free health care is provided by Cuban and Venezuelan doctors), a community radio station and had an exchange with community council members. The commune of Petare is building a chocolate factory which will sit alongside a community university. Photos by Pip Hinman.

Photos from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) 2012 Presidential Elections Brigade. The brigade's program kicked off with an introductory talk on Venezuelan history and politics by Dr Marcelo Alfonzo, Central University of Venezuela. Then visits to National Institute of Hygiene plant, a world leader in the manufacture of vaccines, the Bolivarian University, ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America) and the Latin American School of Medicine. Photos by Pip Hinman unless otherwise designated.

In Venezuela's October 7 presidential elections, the candidate leading the polls — President Hugo Chavez — is standing on a platform of pushing a socialist transformation.

Leaked documents show his main opponent, Henri Capriles Radonski, has a neoliberal agenda. But publicly he presents himself as a social democrat who supports pro-poor policies such as the Chavez government's health and education social programs.

As Venezuela's October 7 presidential elections approach, polls are showing a clear, large victory for President Hugo Chavez, with a 13%-28% lead.

The socialist incumbent — who has survived a US coup and other attempts to overthrow his government — is campaigning on a detailed platform to deepen the social changes that are redistributing wealth and political power to the poor majority. His right-wing opponent, Henri Capriles Radonski, supports privatising state industry and cutting social spending.

“My plan is to demolish the ultra-right so that a true opposition arises, because I am ready to work with them,” Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez told a mass rally of supporters of his re-election campaign in the Caracas neighbourhood of Charallave on September 9.

Everywhere you look these days, things are turning green. In Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous farmers are being paid to protect the last vast stretch of rainforest in Mesoamerica. In the Brazilian Amazon, peasant families are given a monthly “green basket” of basic food staples to allow them to get by without cutting down trees. In Kenya, small farmers who plant climate-hardy trees and protect green zones are promised payment for their part in the fight to reduce global warming.

Significant regional integration efforts, independent from the United States, have been among the most striking developments in Latin America and the Caribbean this century.

The most ambitious of these projects is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), founded at a summit in Caracas, Venezuela in December last year.

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